Anyone in the administrative and secretarial profession knows that the job of the traditional secretary has evolved. In fact, this once thankless job has grown to involve much more managerial and decision-making skills - so much so that it may no longer be suitable for some junior-level candidates.
Even though bosses type their own emails these days, the outdated mindset about the role of a traditional secretary still exists in the workplace.
But regardless of what people think of what you do, you’re more than your job title and here’s why:
You have more opportunities to your strengthsWhile the media promotes its share of "dumb" secretaries, some of pop culture's most famous secretaries have been strong, intelligent females who in turn, managed their bosses.
The best way to overcome people’s prejudices, is first ignoring the naysayers, taking on additional responsibilities and going further to excel at them. Once you have proven yourself in the small things, they’ll know you can be trusted with bigger roles and responsibilities. Whether or not you encounter prejudices sometimes has less to do with the industry you’re in than the mindset of your boss. The one who values your skills more will know how to best maximise your strengths, while others will micromanage you on every level.
Be proactiveGone are the days where secretaries are sent only to the copiers, filing papers away and making coffee. You are your boss’s pillar of support and organisation, you keep the little things in check so your boss can focus on the bigger tasks - growing the company and business.
Today, you are allowed to make project-management decisions and are given greater power to decide which call your boss should take and which meeting he should attend. These valuable skills can support company goals and bosses are often happy to give you that responsibility - especially if they know you are someone they can trust. Many may feel bogged down by the traditionalistic views of what a secretary should do, but many times, employers do value the skills you can bring to the table. If your boss seems likely to stay close-minded about your role, you may wish to discreetly start looking for other opportunities.
Speak up if you mustDespite all the problems, one of the biggest stereotypes of the secretarial role - being the boss’s eye candy - seem to have disappeared (thank goodness!) This trend should have been wiped out by now and should not be allowed or tolerated in the workplace. When confronted with such unruly behaviour, you should never stay silent or hesitate to consult your company’s guidelines for addressing such incidents.
If the matter can’t be satisfactorily resolved internally, you may need to escalate the matter to the higher authorities. The Ministry of Manpower has a comprehensive list of relevant parties you should get in touch with.